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Going after the twigs and the leaves, a painting by Rodel Tapaya Courtesy the artist; Arndt Art Agency, Berlin; and Artinformal, Manila

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Red-haired or freckled women in high-UV latitudes have lower mortality risks, light-skinned sex workers in Mexico command higher rates, Brazilian men who self-identify as black are slightly happier with their penis size than those who self-identify as white, and a survey of forty countries found Colombian women to be more than five times as happy with their breast size as Japanese women. Taiwanese men increase their odds of getting married in a given year by 3.92 percent for every 10 percent increase in the value of their real estate. Straight women who can see and those who are blind care equally about dating good-looking men, though blind women place more importance on their partners having pleasant voices and odors. Heterosexual women and men rated the erogeneity and appropriateness of having digital avatars of themselves touched by virtual men or women. A review of 250,000 pieces of erotica published between 2000 and 2016 found no significant increase in “transgressive” content, Saudi Arabians do not linger on porn websites, and neuroscientists reported that forceful, prosaic self-squeezing of the penile shaft more closely evokes the neurological signature of erotic touch than does gentle, prosaic self-squeezing of the glans. Adolescent Dutch boys who instrumentalize sex are highly likely to nonconsensually forward sexts they receive from strangers. Rumors seem more truthful when sourced to a friend of a friend.

The world’s oldest bamboo fossil turned out to be a conifer. The axolotl’s unusually large genome may be useful for something. Sugar ants will mine dried urine from sand. Automation of the labor force may lead humans to overcome their differences, and researchers seeking to use personal voice-assistance to detect dementia among their users were awarded a $12 million grant. Rising climate skepticism among Republicans in recent decades was attributed to backlash against Democratic elites. Climate change will not encourage sugar maples to move northward, but it will drive Americans from the coasts toward Las Vegas. Scientists looked forward to studying the flow of Antarctic bottom water from the Weddell Sea into the Scotia Sea. Ocean currents are speeding up. The asteroid strike at Yarrabubba may have ended Snowball Earth.

African penguins were found to be the first non-primates whose speech exhibits both the Menzerath–Altmann Law and Zipf’s Law of Brevity. Cetaceans are least likely among mammals to dream profoundly. Veterinarians developed an ultrasound schedule for pregnant dolphins, and marine biologists discovered four new species of walking sharks and found that gray seals clap at each other to communicate underwater. Southern white rhinos are threatened by inbreeding. Sheep compensate well for lameness. Researchers who wear orange catch more anoles, and Australia began culling thousands of camels with helicopter snipers. India’s Supreme Court approved the importation of Namibian cheetahs. Crystallized mud-wasp nests were used to revise the age of Aboriginal rock art, and a sheep hunters’ encampment was discovered in Nachcharini Cave. Mount Vesuvius turned a Herculaneum man’s brain to glass, according to archaeologists, who also revived the voice of a priest from the reign of Ramesses XI and determined that a mummy in the Ulster Museum had been stabbed in the back. A soggy Suffolk owl found in a ditch was diagnosed as too fat to fly. A spineless hedgehog in Fishcross regrew its spines and was released into the wild, and officials blamed the deaths of British black bees at Wisbech Castle on “morons.”

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April 2020